‘Of machines and people’ is a book portraying Wärtsilä’s journey to global prominence

Wärtsilä Corporation, Press release 7 January 2019 at 12:00 UTC+2
  • History book cover

“In the future, machines will do the perfunctory jobs that humans do right now. Employees need to be increasingly creative: they need to use their brains and question things. And the management needs to let them try and fail, because that is the only way to learn and create something new.” This is how the renowned futurist Alvin Toffler predicted the future when he visited Wärtsilä’s shipyards in 1983.

Did Toffler’s predictions come true? What has happened at Wärtsilä after Wilhelm ‘Vikkelä-Ville (Quick Willy)’ Wahlforss, a true captain of industry and long-term chief executive of Wärtsilä left? What really happened when Wärtsilä Marine filed for bankruptcy in 1989, according to those in the eye of the storm at the time? How did the company become the global Wärtsilä of today, leading the industry by enabling sustainable societies with smart technology?

This book, Of machines and people, celebrating the 185th anniversary of Wärtsilä, brings together the stories of Wärtsilä’s history from the past 50 years. It is based on interviews with 59 individuals who have played various roles in and around the company, from industrialists to chauffeurs and engineers to salesmen. The book depicts the last decades the way the people who have been part of creating the new Wärtsilä experienced them.

Of machines and people is not a traditional version of a company’s history opus. It is an easy-to-read visual journey to the past decades of the Finnish society, filled with personal anecdotes and stories.

“Wärtsilä is an institution, and it has been a major employer and renewer of many industries throughout its history. Its history is basically the history of the Finnish economy, and almost every Finn has a personal link to the company in some way,” says the journalist Pekka Vänttinen, who did the monumental task of composing the story from the interviews.

The Editor-in-Chief of the book was Atte Palomäki, Wärtsilä’s Executive Vice President, Communications and Branding. He says that in honor of Wärtsilä’s anniversary, they have donated the book to every main library of Finland. “This is a way for us to get our story within reach for everyone involved, and to give credit where it’s due. Within just one generation, Wärtsilä has renewed itself completely, and been able to take a leap from Finland to all continents. Behind the success there are thousands of experts, and we want to give thanks to each and every one of them with this book.”

‘Of machines and people’ can be purchased at Alma Talent’s online shop.

Listen to the interview with Alvin Toffler from 1983, interviewer Eeva Artimo.

Interview requests: The Editor-in-Chief Atte Palomäki, Wärtsilä p. +358 10 709 5599 atte.palomaki@wartsila.com

Of machines and people
The history of Wärtsilä group as it was experienced 1969-2019

Editor: Pekka Vänttinen
Publisher: Wärtsilä Oyj, Editor-in-Chief Atte Palomäki
Execution: Miltton Oy
ISBN 978-952-68866-6-4

For more information please contact:

Mr Atte Palomäki
Executive Vice President
Communications & Branding
Wärtsilä Corporation
Tel. +358 (0)10 709 5599


Wärtsilä in brief:
Wärtsilä is a global leader in smart technologies and complete lifecycle solutions for the marine and energy markets. By emphasising sustainable innovation, total efficiency and data analytics, Wärtsilä maximises the environmental and economic performance of the vessels and power plants of its customers. In 2017, Wärtsilä’s net sales totalled EUR 4.9 billion with approximately 18,000 employees. The company has operations in over 200 locations in more than 80 countries around the world. Wärtsilä is listed on Nasdaq Helsinki.